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Budding Māori entrepreneurs and business start-ups are in line for a major boost with the help of a Te Wānanga o Aotearoa (TWoA) -facilitated business accelerator programme.

TWoA has partnered with Callaghan Innovation, the government’s business innovation agency, and industry leaders in the Māori economy to deliver the programme called 'Kōkiri'.

The three-month intensive programme focuses on entrepreneurs and business start-ups that meet the criteria of having globally-focused business ideas and high-growth potential.

Kōkiri is aimed at speeding up the process of getting these business ideas into the market and investment-ready.

The programme, which starts in early 2018, will likely be based in the Waikato but will begin taking official nationwide applications in October.

Up to 10 successful applicants will receive mentoring from leading business figures, education and networking opportunities before they pitch their ideas to prospective investors in a Dragons Den-type setting.

They will also receive financial assistance to enable them to focus solely on their business ideas during the programme.

Aisha Ross, who is Director Innovation and Development for TWoA, said the partnership with government and industry to aid Māori entrepreneurs and start-ups to develop and advance their businesses was a first.

The accelerator programme is funded under the Te Pūnaha Hiringa Māori Innovation Fund administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Aisha said pivotal to the success of TWoA gaining support from Government was our organisation’s ability to leverage our strong relationships in particular with Creative HQ, Robett Hollis, Crowe Horwath and EY Tahi who are significant partners in the journey.

“The industry figures we are engaging with on this programme have been selected because of their experience in delivering successful and recognised business accelerator programmes,” said Aisha.

“They also have a track record of successfully engaging with Māori participants.”

Aisha says the aims of Kōkiri aligned with TWoA’s mission of tauira success.

He says TWoA was the optimal provider for the programme having already produced hundreds of small business graduates who had established successful businesses.

The official launch of Kōkiri will be held at Matariki Xponential 2017 in Rotorua on July 29 when the programme will start taking expressions of interest.
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Published On: July 4, 2017

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